Alia Poem: March 15th 2024

A very happy 31st birthday to you Alia

Alia you are like a shining star forever sparkling

You have proved to be a smart cookie in adapting to different on-screen characters

You have made the roles of Gangubai, Veera Tripathi, Safeena, Bauria and more your own

In spite of not being a natural dancer there is so much joy in seeing you dance

I can never forget your Kathak dance in the film Kalank, the grace and those expressions were too good

Similarly, the scene in Gangubai where your character goes into a trance like state while dancing was so well enacted

In Rocky Aur Rani ki Prem Kahani you pulled off both What Jumka and Dhindora Bajare Re in an excellent manner

The first song had undertones of mischievousness and the second was a high energy one which required absolute lack of inhibitions

In both the songs Alia your movements were as smooth as butter without a single false step

Both the songs can be watched any number of times particularly for your expressions

As a producer of course it is early days but the subjects you have backed in both Darlings and Poacher are very commendable

Thank you so much for replying to my comment on your Instagram page regarding Poacher

It felt so good when you replied back with emojis and also took my name Prabhatha

Honestly it felt like I had climbed Mount Everest that day

In my mind I was flying with unadulterated happiness. Wish I had wings really like birds

It is a day that I can never forget and will forever cherish

Keep shining like the star you are

All the very best for your new chapter in professional life starting with Jigra where you will do some hardcore action

You have always proved the sceptics wrong by successfully portraying different characters

I am sure that both Jigra and the solo YRF spy film will showcase a vastly different facet of you

Once again wishing you a very happy 31st birthday from one of your biggest fans, you are truly a queen of hearts and absolute Rani

May you continue to flourish as an actor, producer and businesswomen along with other roles in your personal life

Priyanka Chopra Autobiography Unfinished

Recently I have read Priyanka Chopra’s autobiography Unfinished, it is a collection of stories that cover the many aspects of her life both professional and personal. However Unfinished is not just the story of Priyanka Chopra, it is as much about her parents who were a big pillar of support in the process of Priyanka achieving global stardom.

This autobiography works best when Priyanka shares anecdotes about her parents. Oftentimes she paints them as superheroes. Her daddy was a doctor in the army. There is an instance where Priyanka talks about him dislodging a bullet from a dying soldier. Similarly the mother rescuing a girl child outside a hospital on a rainy night. Her father’s battle with cancer and how it took her a long time to cope with his death feels heartfelt.

But when it comes to the professional part the book needed more insight into how she brings her characters to life. For example Priyanka’s act in Barfi is hugely acclaimed. She expressed her sadness on her performance being overlooked at major award functions that year however there is no insight into how she became the character. After a point the novel becomes more of a Wikipedia entry with how she has emerged victorious overcoming obstacles. The only portion regarding the professional chapter that works is when she goes in detail about the failure of her musical career in America. Unfinished is no by means unreadable there is a crispness in the narration but the book could have done with more description of her acting process.

Maara: For The Wanderer Within You

Dhilip Kumar’s Maara is one of those films which need patient viewing. The reasons are – one, the pace, two, the concept of magic realism. It is good that the film is released on Amazon and not in theatres.

Inspired from Dulqer Salman’s Charlie it tells the story of Maara played by Madahavan as discovered by Paaru played by Shraddha Srinath. Paaru is a restoration architect and a relentless romantic. When she goes to Kerala for an assignment she comes across some paintings by a person called Manimaaran/ Maara. Impressed by his art she tries to know more about him. Since he is elusive she tries to know about him through the real characters he drew. What follows is a stunning visual imagery mixed with the charm of Madhavan. Apart from being a painter Maara is also a wanderer who touches people’s lives. However, he is not a wanderer just for the sake of it. There is a larger purpose for it.

The first thing that strikes you about the film is the heavy influence of Imtiaz Ali and also Sanjay Leela Bhansali to an extent. Just like Imtiaz Ali’s films here also you have the concept of finding yourself and also the right atmospherics. You can also see the influence of the poet Rumi who himself is an inspiration to filmmakers like Imtiaz Ali.

Two things stand out most in Maara. One is the fantastic cinematography by Dinesh Krishnan and the art direction by Ajayan Chelissery. The painted roads, the ageing houses and the grass peeping out of the walls are all done well. Everything is aesthetically very good and works well for the camera. The art direction is equally well complimented by Dinesh Krishnan who captures the beauty of the landscapes and the created set designs.

As regards to the main plot it is definitely a ‘Feel Good’ story. Maara is jovial, friendly and empathetic to people irrespective of their status. In short a Good Samaritan. Among his interactions with people my favorite one is that of sex worker Selvi played by Abhirami. It reminds you of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Saawariya. The character of Madhavan itself is written well and the actor plays it with his trademark charm. He shines in both the light moments and also the emotional scenes. One of my favorite lines of Maara is “they will only remember the reason why you died and not you.’’ He says this to a girl who tries to commit suicide. The supporting cast also works well. Mouli as Velliya is particularly impressive as the person who brings up Maara. He plays his part with a perfect mixture of cuteness and strictness. His love for Meenakshi and the pre climax scene when he finally meets her leaves you emotionally moved.

The biggest problem with the film is the character of Paaru played by Shraddha Srinath. It is written very loosely and on top of it the actress doesn’t help her cause either. In fact you feel happy that Madhavan has only one scene with her and that too at the end. Her battles with the family have also not been dealt convincingly enough. They are forgotten midway through. Also you don’t see a single scene where Paaru is doing restoration work as she is supposed to do.

The pace of the film is also a major villain. It is only at halfway point that you get a sense of what the director is trying to say, that too only for niche audience. For the rest it will go over their head.